"Impeach the president!" and "Clinton must resign!" are phrases which were once relegated to the back rooms of - to borrow a phrase from the First Lady - a 'vast right-wing conspiracy.' Today, those statements are being boldly proclaimed in public by many, even by those who otherwise have strongly supported this president.
Unfortunately, those calls are only now being made after our nation's president has admitted to living a life more akin to an afternoon soap opera than the traditional values which so many in our nation hold dear. While there is a great deal of significance to the fact that the president has admitted to lying under oath in a judicial proceeding, I have not considered - nor do I now - this "scandal" worthy of the attention it has received in the light of so much else before us.
It might be more pressing if this were the only impropriety involving President Clinton; lying under oath, tampering with witnesses and the litany of related crimes alleged, are certainly worthy of trial under our system of government.
But allegations of bribery, treason and oppression of rights are far more serious.
Almost a year ago, long before our national obsession with the Bill-said/Monica-said affair began, Rep. Bob Barr of Georgia and I cosponsored legislation called an "Inquiry into Impeachment," House Resolution 304.
I did so because credible allegations have been raised that this president has abused the power of his office, domestically and abroad.
Discussions of a powerful man using influence in an attempt to secure employment for his much-younger mistress, while disgraceful and shameful, pale in comparison to the abuse of power in accessing hundreds of confidential files on private citizens and political opponents. It is disturbing that under this president's watch, at least 900 files from the Federal Bureau of Investigations, detailing the intimate details uncovered for security background checks, were found to have been illegally transferred to the White House.
If this president used his powerful position to illegally secure information regarding political detractors, then this president must be impeached.
The situation would be bad enough if the allegations were limited to internal, domestic politics. But even more frightening allegations exist.
Far more pressing than the results of DNA tests on a cocktail dress are investigations into whether this president allowed highly-classified missile technology to be transferred to the communist Chinese government in exchange for campaign donations. The allegations and accompanying evidence are compelling, if not yet complete, to indicate that this has indeed been the case. Let us be clear about this: the government of China is not our ally, and in fact has nuclear missiles aimed at our cities. While we are "at peace," we should be mindful that China is a foreign government with a system diametrically opposed to our own.
If this president not only broke the law by accepting donations from a potentially hostile foreign government, but proceeded to trade our nation's military secrets as a "quid pro quo," then this president must be impeached.
For far too long, Congress has abdicated its oversight responsibility to independent prosecutors. This Congress should begin proceedings to hear the facts behind these allegations, as the Inquiry legislation would require.
Congress must move forward now to secure the integrity of our system of justice, protect the liberties of our people, and to ensure our national security. But Congress must move forward with hearings for the sake of this president and the office he holds. If this president has done nothing meriting impeachment, public hearings will vindicate him and the sordid allegations - and purveyors of the falsehoods - will be revealed.
If, however, the allegations bear the weight of the evidence, then the man entrusted with the highest office in our land must be impeached. Should this be the case, it will be a difficult time for our nation, but it is far worse to allow transgressions against our sovereignty and liberty to go unpunished.
Impeach the president? For the sake of our nation, let us hold hearings and weigh the evidence; the allegations are simply too compelling.